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Evidence Meltdown: The green movement has misled the world about the dangers of radiation. (Monbiot)

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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:20 PM
Original message
Evidence Meltdown: The green movement has misled the world about the dangers of radiation. (Monbiot)
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 06:21 PM by salvorhardin
As a friend of mine said, "Monbiot sometimes comes off as an ass, but my gosh!, what an effective ass."

Over the past fortnight Ive made a deeply troubling discovery. The anti-nuclear movement to which I once belonged has misled the world about the impacts of radiation on human health. The claims we have made are ungrounded in science, unsupportable when challenged and wildly wrong. We have done other people, and ourselves, a terrible disservice.

I began to see the extent of the problem after a debate last week with Helen Caldicott(1). Dr Caldicott is the worlds foremost anti-nuclear campaigner. She has received 21 honorary degrees and scores of awards, and was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize(2). Like other greens, I was in awe of her. In the debate she made some striking statements about the dangers of radiation. So I did what anyone faced with questionable scientific claims should do: I asked for the sources. Caldicotts response has profoundly shaken me.

First she sent me nine documents: newspaper articles, press releases and an advertisement. None were scientific publications; none contained sources for the claims she had made. But one of the press releases referred to a report by the US National Academy of Sciences, which she urged me to read. I have now done so all 423 pages(3). It supports none of the statements I questioned: in fact it strongly contradicts her claims about the health effects of radiation.

I pressed her further and she gave me a series of answers that made my heart sink in most cases they referred to publications which either had little or no scientific standing, which did not support her claims or which contradicted them. (I have posted our correspondence(4a,4b), and my sources, on my website). I have just read her book Nuclear Power is not the Answer(5). The scarcity of references to scientific papers and the abundance of unsourced claims it contains amaze me.

Full post with references: http://www.monbiot.com/2011/04/04/evidence-meltdown
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flamingdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:26 PM
Response to Original message
1. Monbiot is an asshat UNREC nt
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Codeine Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:28 PM
Response to Original message
2. I liked Caldicott when I was a kid in the late 80s.
I grew out of that phase.
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rpannier Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. I gave you a rec
Because I went to his website and found this article:

The Freedom Swindle

Which is a great (and deeply disturbing) read.

http://www.monbiot.com/2011/03/29/the-freedom-swindle/#...
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. Thanks!
I didn't expect to change anyone's minds by posting this here, but just threw it out into the sea of information. Someone might find it useful someday.
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WinkyDink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:33 PM
Response to Original message
5. And you are moving to Japan when?
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:40 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. If you want to pay my way, I'd do it in a heartbeat
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 06:48 PM by salvorhardin
Also, I'd gladly volunteer to live right next door to a nuclear reactor in the U.S. should someone ever pay for a house for me. Until then I guess I'll just have to wait until Marble Hill melts down. :D

On edit: er, I mean Cook Nuclear since Marble Hill never went online, of course. Besides, Cook is actually closer.
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tahrir Donating Member (158 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:42 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. i heard they are looking for workers 5k a day
sounds like a great opportunity for you... be sure to keep in touch
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Alas, with near non-functioning legs I wouldn't be much help
But again, if I could I would.
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tahrir Donating Member (158 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 06:39 PM
Response to Original message
6. radiation is safe? who knew... someone let the folks in fukushima know they have nothing to fear
what a sad joke this fool is
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WatsonT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 08:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
13. Drinking water isn't safe, you can OD and die
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 08:45 PM by WatsonT
the question isn't "can something kill you" it's "how much does it take" or "what are the odds of this actually happening".

If you were sitting in that reactor right now you'd be in trouble.

But people are freaking out in the US over statistically insignificant increases in radiation.

Measurable =! meaningful.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:12 PM
Response to Reply #13
14. Thanks
Good reply. The only thing I'd add is that calculating radiation dosage is extremely complicated, especially as we move toward the very low end. We're not sure where the cutoff should be for "safe" and there's some good evidence to suggest that it's many times greater than what the current guidelines are. The bottom line is that if you're camping out in the Fukushima Daiichi parking lot for a month, or you're using the radioactive water they're dumping into the ocean to make lemonade, then you have a lot to worry about. However, the amounts of radiation we're measuring in the U.S. are far less than the amount of radiation someone would get by driving 5 miles in their car on a sunny day.
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Paradoxical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:14 PM
Response to Reply #13
15. That's slightly misleading. Ionizing radiation is not good.
Unless it is being used to kill cancer cells. And even then it has some terrible side effects.

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On the Road Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:10 PM
Response to Original message
10. That is an Interesting Article
I haven't been particularly focused on the radiation issue, partly because there is a lot of alarmism about related subjects such as the danger of cell phones. I don't know Monibot, and don't realy care. I do care about the substance.

I don't know, but I bet you were hoping someone would link this.

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Urban Prairie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:18 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Damn, but have I grown to hate seeing the image of that HUGE imposing radiation dose CHART
Even with that tiny disclaimer text on the bottom...Ewww!!



:argh:
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 07:45 PM
Response to Reply #10
12. Haha! I love that chart!
Seth Godin's is awesome too.

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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:21 PM
Response to Reply #12
16. That is a ridiculous comparison, oil and coal to nuclear.
I can't believe the pro-nuke crowd and their instance that radiation is safe. They should all go and help out in Japan, no excuses since it is so safe. :eyes:

Of course they WON'T, because they know their propaganda is bullshit.

5k a day folks, no excuses JUST GO.
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Cleita Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:23 PM
Response to Original message
17. And the propaganda goes on.
Of course once you get radiation disease you won't live long enough to disprove their theories.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:30 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. At least is has died down to a few people.
When the event first happened, there were THOUSANDS of nuclear experts right here on DU telling everyone it would NEVER BE AS BAD AS TMI! As you can see, those experts are gone now and haven't been posting much lately. Only the hardcore "I love radiation" crowd remains and they are very few and far between. Thankfully.
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Zorra Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:30 PM
Response to Original message
18. Yes! It's all lies spread by anti-nuke environmentalist librul hippie communists!
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 10:30 PM by Zorra
Nuclear power is safe and healthy.

Studies have proven that in the proper dosages, radiation kills 100% of harmful bacteria and viruses in the human body.

Nuclear waste is nutritious. Tastes just like chicken!

I really hope that the article by Monbiot in the OP was a satire of some kind of George F. Will nonsense, because it was really idiotic.
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Rex Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:33 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. I had a friend tell me the other day that with huge doses of radiation
his penis is now 2 inches longer! AMAZING! Who knew the secret benefits of gamma radiation! Well, besides the Hulk.

I'm looking for a close by nuclear reactor to stick my penis in. Maybe an old storage pool?
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Bluebear Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:49 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. +++
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LiberalAndProud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 10:58 PM
Response to Original message
22. US National Academies of Sciences ...
Health Risks from Exposure to Low Levels of Ionizing Radiation: BEIR VII Phase 2 (2006) says that even low doses of ionizing radiation are likely to pose some risk of adverse health effects, and no level should be considered safe.

http://www.nationalacademies.org /


I'm not worried about the short term effects from where I sit. And I suspect that the long-term effects will not be tracable by any scientifically accepted method. Therein lies the problem.

Some will deny deny deny that there are any bad effects, and the very nature of the contaminant makes it difficult, if not impossible, to prove them wrong.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:50 PM
Response to Reply #22
23. Radiation hormesis and the Linear No-Threshold model
Edited on Wed Apr-06-11 11:53 PM by salvorhardin
Here's a really good discussion by David Gorski, a research oncologist, of LNT vs. hormesis, and why Ann Coulter is still a moronic crank. It's longish so here's just a few grafs chosen not to make any particular point but just to give a sampling of what Dr. Gorski is saying.

As imperfect as it is, the LNT model is a reasonable approximation for purposes of policy-making because it is conservative and safe. Admittedly, there are problems applying such a model when the doses get really low, as in lower than the normal background radiation that we all live in, but its a useful approximation. When it is very hard to distinguish between an LNT model and a hormesis model at very low radiation exposures, until better data can be gathered that clearly demonstrate the superiority of one model over another, the responsible and safe model to choose is the most conservative one that fits reasonably well. Basing public policy on a model that, if incorrect, has the potential to result in considerable harm in the form of increased radiation-induced disease prevalence is not wise policy at all, at least when the alternate model is not demonstrably wrong.

....

Despite my irritation, I was rather grateful for Coulters article. It did remind me of a rather fascinating debate in radiobiology over what model best describes the biological effects of radiation. Hormesis might indeed be a real phenomenon in humans, but its been very difficult to demonstrate. Even one of the best review articles Ive found that argues for the existence of hormesis as a phenomenon, an article by Tubiana et al entitled The Linear No-Threshold Relationship Is Inconsistent with Radiation Biologic and Experimental Data doesnt exactly argue for hormesis. Rather, it argues that the LNT model is inconsistent with the data and needs to be modified to more of a threshold model, in which doses below a certain threshold are probably harmless but above a certain threshold start to increase the risk of disease. Arrayed against these sorts of arguments are scientists like Rudi H. Nussbaum and Wolfgang Khnlein, who call hormesis and the zero-risk threshold dose scientifically refuted, but stubborn myths. They even argue that in some cases the risk of low level radiation exposure might well be underestimated. Not surprisingly, in her article Coulter used nearly every myth that Nussbaum and Khnlein deconstruct in their paper.

Hormesis is clearly an area of science that is as yet controversial. The reason is because its difficult to demonstrate definitively one way or another whether hormesis occurs in humans in response to low dose radiation. As I mentioned above, the signal-to-noise ratio for studies of low dose radiation is very low. Moreover, studies of low dose radiation have been conflicting, although we can say with a fair amount of confidence, based on my review of the literature, that, if hormesis occurs, it probably occurs only below doses of 100 mSv. Remember, 30 mSv is the dose received from a CT scan of the chest, abdomen, and pelvis and can be estimated to increase ones lifetime risk of a fatal cancer by 1 in 1000 to 1 in 500 in pediatric patients, while most people receive around 3 mSv per year from background radiation. To put this all into context, XKCD has a very useful chart that describes how much radiation we receive from various sources. Another good perspective comes from a recent AP article on the topic, which takes a much more balanced perspective.

The bottom line is that we just dont know whether hormesis is a real phenomenon for radiation response in humans. Lacking that knowledge, we do know that the LNT model is a reasonable approximation for purposes of regulation because it is simple and defensible. Even so, different professional organization bodies have started to question it.
Full article: http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=11636
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LiberalAndProud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:56 PM
Response to Reply #23
24. Shades of Donald Rumsfeld.
We don't know what we don't know. Only Gorski uses a lot of words to say just that.
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-06-11 11:59 PM
Response to Reply #24
25. Obviously you didn't read even the first sentence from my excerpt
Edited on Thu Apr-07-11 12:00 AM by salvorhardin
Here it is again:
As imperfect as it is, the LNT model is a reasonable approximation for purposes of policy-making because it is conservative and safe.


Let me rephrase that for you... The only sensible policy is no level of radiation is safe.
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LiberalAndProud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 12:11 AM
Response to Reply #25
26. Yea, I got that. But my comment was to this ...
The bottom line is that we just dont know whether hormesis is a real phenomenon for radiation response in humans. Lacking that knowledge, we do know that the LNT model is a reasonable approximation for purposes of regulation because it is simple and defensible. Even so, different professional organization bodies have started to question it.


...


*That* is the problem. It is non-linear. Gorski takes the correct (IMO) tack, but it is not the accepted doctrine within the industry, as we've been hearing quite frequently lately. Plausible deniability, it's a plague.
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